Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France) (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino says he has “no doubt” that Neymar will carry on playing at the top level “for many years” to come after recent comments by the Brazilian superstar which suggested next year’s World Cup would be his last.
“‘Ney’ is an honest person who has no problem talking about his feelings. He has been living under the spotlight since he was very young. He is mentally very strong, I don’t think there is a problem,” Pochettino said when asked about the world’s most expensive player.
Neymar, who has played in two World Cups and is his country’s second-top scorer of all time behind Pele, said last weekend the 2022 tournament in Qatar would be his last one as he “doesn’t have the strength to put up with more football”.
Neymar’s comments have sparked a debate in his home country about mental health. He will be 34 when the 2026 World Cup rolls around.
However Pochettino does not believe Neymar will withdraw from the game any time soon.
“Sometimes things are taken out of context. I have no doubt that ‘Ney’ loves football, gets enjoyment from it and will continue to play for many years,” added Pochettino, who was speaking ahead of PSG’s Ligue 1 game against Angers on Friday.
The former Barcelona superstar will miss PSG’s game as he remains on international duty.
Brazil, who drew 0-0 with Colombia last weekend, play host to Uruguay in another World Cup qualifier on Thursday night.
Several leading PSG players, including Lionel Messi, will be missing against Angers because of the late end to this round of South American qualifiers.
They are all set to return for next Tuesday’s Champions League meeting with RB Leipzig, but first Pochettino’s side will be hoping to bounce back from their first domestic defeat of the season in Rennes a fortnight ago.
Meanwhile Sergio Ramos is still waiting to make his PSG debut following his arrival from Real Madrid in the close season.
The injury-plagued 35-year-old has been struggling to shake off a calf problem and is still 10 days away from a return to full training according to his club.
“I have no doubt that he will get back to his best form. He is a player who always wants to play and he is suffering at the moment because he is not able to,” Pochettino said.
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